Heineken Cup draw is kind to Harlequins, hard on Exeter


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Harlequins have been given a kind draw for the group stages of next season's Heineken Cup. Biarritz will provide the English champions with their stiffest opposition in Pool Three, which is also made up of Ireland's weakest province, Connacht, and Zebre of Italy.

Leicester, Harlequins' victims in last month's Aviva Premiership final, have been matched alongside the French heavyweights Toulouse in Pool Two.

Heineken Cup debutants Exeter have a tough introduction to the tournament after drawing a group containing reigning champions Leinster, Clermont Auvergne and Scarlets.

The future of English clubs in the tournament is in doubt after Premier Rugby yesterday gave two years' notice of their intention to withdraw from the Heineken and Amlin Cups, concerned by the formats and qualification process.